Thursday, April 28, 2011

Its done!

Well after a long process, that was longer than I thought it should be I finished this ring.

This ring serves many purposes:

• I wanted to up my skill level in what I was presenting and working on with the RAW challenge

• I wanted to play with shapes, there are a lot of really cool geometric rings out there, I wanted to try one

• I felt the need to make a commemorative ring

Lets start with the commemorative part:

I am a dorky fan girl. I have accepted this, its just part of who I am, and I currently have a huge crush on Peter Steele.

I have a thing for tall dark broody guys with long black hair and green eyes. (This basically describes my husband--I've already admitted Im fairly shallow and have a limited "type" of guy I will look twice at--and my husband finds this all completely amusing.) Peter Steele was the epitome of tall dark and handsome. He was 6'8"ish, had traffic-light green eyes, and long long black hair. He wrote, sang , and played bass for Type O Negative. His voice was like dark chocolate, deep and resonating, and he was built like Conan the Barbarian. Unfortunately he died last year.

I was actively sketching ideas for a commemorative piece to mark the anniversary of his death. I was not originally playing with geometric shapes (I was looking at artistic representations of a penis, heck the man's stage name was Peter Steele and he was the first model for Play Girl to pose erect). I then sort of ditched the idea, and thought I had moved on to just working out some geometric ideas--not related to a commemorative piece--when I realized I was recreating the Type O Negative logo. I ran with that idea (and I could wear it around my kids with out having to explain why mommy has a penis on her finger).

I admit Im not some long time fan of the band, they had minimal impact on my life. Yes I heard their music, heck I even remember the video for Black No. 1 (Its really hard to forget a guy who can play a stand up bass like a guitar) but I didn't really know who they were. I was more familiar with Peter's face because he would show up on websites for some of my favorite authors as an example of what character X, who just happened to be a vampire or a werewolf, would look like. Yes Im a huge paranormal smut- I mean romance- book reader. For some reason Peter Steele's death has turned me into a fan, and artistically has impacted some projects in very interesting and good ways. So, no, I originally wasn't out to make a band fan-girl ring. But now I have I am glad I have.

The original design was plain silver, the second version involved green stones in the center part and an enamel channel, I love the look of enamel and stones.. well that was a disaster. The enamel has actually always been "fauxnamel" I found the PERFECT finger nail polish color. After I finally gave up on the stones, I made a new band with a channel for enamel.

The fauxnameling process was easy, and I took it slow in layers. It looks pretty good, and Im just not really an enamel kind of gal.

I've learned a bit more about ring making with PMC on this project:
• Even if you plan on doubling up the shanks eventually, make them 5+ cards thick
• The standard 2 hour 1650 firing schedule will shrink PMC+ even more, and it makes for a stronger ring
• no matter how thick and dry a pile of slip looks, its still not going to be as structurally sound as if it were made from lump clay
• if the project looks like it would work better using traditional metal smithing techniques, thats probably the case--this ring probably would have been easy breezy with cut pound and solder
• I need more tools- a circle template is a must, now I have to go digging thru my old art school tools, since I know I have one
• planning ahead helped a lot. Making the cardboard mock up to see how it would go together was a project saver.
• drying forms are a must, I made some U shaped drying forms for box rings, and I am really glad I did.
• I need to work on my finishing skills. Yes I made this ring for me, but from a technical stand point and construction, its a mess. Its embarrassingly bad for a level 2 PMC artisan.
• If you do use the standard firing schedule, make the ring more than 2 sizes up. I made this ring size 11 to fit my chubby 9 finger, it shrank even further and fits my pinky.

I would do a whole lot of things differently if I were to do it again. Would I? If I do it will be in bronze or copper, and then I have to use a whole different set of construction techniques from the silver. This may not be a bad thing.
Honestly if I were ever to try to do it again, I would learn how to do it with traditional methods.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Need I say more?
And I have no idea why I couldn't find this poster in English, but hey just proving its a world wide thang!

Time to make more piratical hair clips and lanyard pulls

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ring Woes

Ive been working on this ring for a bit now.

I designed it on paper-yes it all started with a sketch.
I made a paper board mock up.

And then I started to make it in metal clay. Its taken a bit longer than I had anticipated also. Bummer.
The idea was simple, the mock up a breeze, the actual execution

I decided this needed to be silver, and not use bronze, its based on a logo for a dark metal band (yes I am a fan girl). And the inset of green enamel will work best against silver.
That and the silver clay is "easier" to work with--yeah right.

The U easy
the top circle with a channel, not so bad, but not perfect
the main shank: EVIL!

The original intension was to set 3 green stones
the shank kept breaking, the setting breaking
That piece broke and was fixed 5 times. I "finally" had it right, one last clean up of the stones and it disintegrated.
It broke in 4 places, then one sectioned crumbled.

Ok that shank with stones needed to be redesigned.
I was going to simplify.
So simple shank, with a basic rectangular channel for enamel.

let the 3 components dry.
Wash of slip and squish them together.

So far so good, then the shank breaks, just where it separates and goes solo.
Slip squish fix fix fix
add more clay

A little filing, everything is good.
So into the kiln it goes.

YAY! not yet....

The whole thing shrunk just a tad bit more than I intended, thats actually ok, since work hardening would stretch it just enough. so I started to tap it back into shape. And I do mean tap. then snap, and pop

The shank broke, and the top circle popped off the U.

Fixed, this time lots and lots and lots of slip and clay.

It survived being refined, it all looked good. In the kiln, it came out looking great. Back on the mandrel and tap tap tap pop.


Well its all slipped up again, lets hope third times a charm.

I will share what I've learned, when this is finished.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hell is a hockey town!

Well, maybe not, but....
The other day I was wondering around Hobby Lobby, just cause. I had no intension of buying anything, I was just killing time will the girls were across the street at sewing class.
As I turned down the clay isle, my intension was to look at the resin molds. Im having a difficult time finding nice dimple free wells to use with resin--I've had to send 2 back to Firemountain already--no nipples on my molds thankyouverymuch (especially since these arent nipple molds!)
Then I saw it...
just a little pack of gears and bits from Lisa Pavelka
in the store!

I usually snag these findings from Christie Freisen, or other online sources, or demolish watches myself.
But I have never seen them available in a local store.

And Hobby Lobby to boot!

And I m thrilled I can get steampunk elements commercially, No I don't think its a sell out I think its wonderful, I can finally get my fingers on this stuff, after years of drooling over it!

Here are some links to aquiring steampunk gears for use in crafts, if your local Hobby Lobby does not carry them:
and lots of options of etsy